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Make a Chatalaine

According to Susan Wildmuth, “Chatelaine is French for “mistress of the castle.” For years people have associated this decorative and useful waist-hung item with medieval times, but it’s an honest case of mistaken identity.

Grandmother to the chatelaine, collectors called these early waist-hung items, with long chains holding keys to myriad places where precious items like spices, tea, and food stuffs were stored, by its proper name, equipage. The term chatelaine, in association with waist-hung items, did not come into use until the early 1800s during the late Regency period.

Similar to equipage, a chatelaine was traditionally worn draped over or attached by a clip to a belt on the wearer’s waist, its long chains dangling about halfway down the length of her skirt. More than just a fashion accessory, its purpose was to organize useful household objects in an accessible fashion and was often given as a wedding present by a husband to his new bride.”

To make this period reproduction of a Chatalaine, you will need 3 1/2 yards of 1 1/2″ wide ribbon, a needle, thread and scissors, a clip (such as a garter clip or keyring clip if you will have a loop on your outfit for it to fasten to) for attaching the ribbon to your gown and a selection of small sewing or household necessities, such as scissors, a needle case and a pin cusion. Many of these items can be made or bought in the notions section of a craft or department store.


December 1862 Peterson’s Magazine. Reprinted in Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1864

  1. Cut four lengths of ribbon about 14-16″ each
  2. Use the rest of the ribbon to create a Rosette. and secure the center with a few stitches.
  3. Using a gathering stitch, gather the four ends of the ribbon lengths together and sew them to the back of the rosette.
  4. Sew your clip to the back of the rosette
  5. Point the loose ends of ribbon by folding over the bottom edge at 45* angles. Secure with a stitch.
  6. Attach your notions to the end of each ribbon length.

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